Kris Batzner, 45, moved to Mt. Pleasant nine years ago and opened RedBloom Yoga in April, 2016. Since then, the studio has grown as it offers aerial and mat yoga classes, private sessions, family events, and wellness events, in addition to housing two massage therapists and a reiki practitioner.
While Batzner began implementing increased cleaning measures and other safety protocols in early March, her business began to feel the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 16 when, like gyms and fitness centers across the state, it was forced to close its doors by executive order.
Since then, she says the business model has completely shifted.
“We are able to only offer a third of our normal classes and are unable to offer several of our services - including aerial yoga, massage, and reiki services,” she says. “We have been limited in our ability to connect to new customers and have many in our community that are not accessing our online content for various reasons. Our reach is definitely smaller and we are in survival mode in order to sustain until we can reopen and expand back to a comfortable operating level.”
Batzner knows the future – and the time when RedBloom Yoga will reopen – will come with its own challenges; however, she is facing those challenges with hope and gratitude. This is her COVID-19 diary entry.
REDBLOOM YOGA COVID-19 DIARY
It is a moment I will never forget. It was late at night on Saturday, I was talking to my husband and I knew in my bones that I needed to close RedBloom. I felt fear, sadness, GRIEF for the loss of what I had built over the last four years, and for the loss of our community and its need to be together in practice. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to carry the responsibility of leading us into this new version of RedBloom (and I didn’t even really know what that looked like).
But I was determined to continue and dive deep into what needed to be done. RedBloom and the people in this community mean so much to me that I was willing to do what it took to keep us connected.
I literally cried as I wrote the letter saying we were closing our doors. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
RedBloom’s online virtual studio has offered an opportunity to reconnect with former clients who have moved away – even overseas.
RedBloom was only closed for 24 hours. Our last in-person class was Sunday evening, March 15, and our online virtual studio opened Tuesday morning, March 17. I pivoted all of our content to an online format using Zoom and our scheduling software, ScheduleBliss. RedBloom was up and running with minimal interruptions. I was able to do this because of my amazing teachers and community members.
My teachers all stepped up and continued teaching and providing amazing classes while learning this new platform. I literally threw them into this with minimal additional training and they SHOWED UP. They made it look easy and still do. Many of them were and are struggling with their own personal lives being turned upside down but they continue to be present and offer focused, organized, and meaningful classes every day. I am honored by the gifts that each and every one of them has given to me as well as our community. I couldn’t do it without them.
Our community showed up and came together online. What an amazing experience that was! Our online practices certainly aren’t the same as in person, but I absolutely loved seeing the relief and JOY on everyone’s faces the first time they logged on and got to actually talk to each other. I could see they were all thinking the same thing I was, “This might actually be OK.
It did take a bit of work to get our community comfortable with the online platform. This was actually one of the harder parts of this process that I did not foresee at all. Yoga is not known for being “high tech.” Figuring out what the barriers were for our students to get used to Zoom was, at times, a struggle. This was not anything we had ever done before. Making sure people had Zoom installed, had the class link, and were able to actually get in was a bit of a learning curve. Zoom is also a lot different on different platforms so I learned a TON of troubleshooting tricks in a very short time.
I’m so pleased that RedBloom continues to offer two live streaming classes per day! And our recorded library of classes for members to access is deep and varied.
Our community members have been gracious, supportive, patient, and committed through the entire process. They have all been patient with me as I have worked to connect them to classes, figured out structures and supports, etc. And they continue to cheer us on. They have literally carried me through some days with their personal check-ins and messages of love and encouragement. I don’t have words for their commitment and support.
RedBloom’s online virtual studio opened Tuesday, March 17.
It’s been two months now. We are definitely getting the hang of it and I am even starting to think about special events to help us come together and process this experience in different ways. I feel that we are no longer in triage mode but more in resigned survival. We are biding our time until we can come together in person again, which we all know WILL happen. Just not when…
There are several things I know in my bones moving forward from this experience…
- This RedBloom community is stronger than anything the universe can throw at us. We can weather any storm together. We are family.
- We will maintain our online studio, even when we do begin to offer in-person classes. Our online studio has been a beautiful way to reconnect with RedBloomers that have moved away and cannot practice with us in person any longer. We have community members returning to us even from overseas! I am not willing to let that connection go.
- RedBloom is ready to grow into the next version of itself. I have always thought of RedBloom as my third child and we recently celebrated its 4th birthday. As a 4-year-old, RedBloom is becoming independent. RedBloom is learning new ways to do things. RedBloom’s world is expanding to include new and exciting places and people. RedBloom is strong.
These last two months have been some of the hardest in my life. I have gone through so many emotions- sadness, joy, anger, relief, fear, gratitude, exhaustion, grief, and hope among some. But as we move forward, I am filled more and more with HOPE. I feel hope with each and every membership purchased and maintained. I feel hope when we welcome new people into our community and they connect right away, creating consistent practice. I feel hope as I think about the ways we can begin to reopen or bring our practices outdoors to be together at a safe distance.
And I am filled with HOPE and GRATITUDE every time I step on my mat to practice with the beautiful, kind, generous, supportive humans that make up RedBloom Yoga. I hope you’ll join me too, either online or in person (when we reopen), and feel a bit of that hope I have found in RedBloom.